The Enigma of Eternal Life


   To many Christians eternal life is an enigma––a puzzle. All believers claim to have it, but the vast majority, when called upon to give some account of it, are unable to do so. Yet Paul writes in Tit. 1: 2 and 3: 7 of the “hope of eternal life” and Peter says in 1 Pet. 3: 15 that we should “[be] always prepared to [give] an answer [to] every one that asks you to give an account of the hope that [is] in you”. So in the light of these Scriptures, what account can you give of eternal life?

   To bring this important matter into focus allow me to pose you ten questions to which you can respond with either
yes or no.

• Is eternal life the same as immortality?

• Do angels have eternal life?

• Is eternal life for heaven?

• Does eternal life describe the condition of those who have departed to be with Christ?

• Is eternity the setting of eternal life?

• Did the OT (Old Testament) saints have eternal life?

• Is eternal life received on new birth?

• Does eternal life describe the life of the Lord in the conditions of flesh and blood when here on earth?

• Does a believer have eternal life in him?

• Is eternal life the immediate consequence of believing?

   Your answers will probably be a mixture of
yes and no or maybe even yes to every question. However, I would say that the answer to every question above is no.

   Let's look at the first question:

Is eternal life the same as immortality?

   Now the first mention of something in the Bible is often the key to its meaning. The first clear reference to eternal life is in Ps. 133: 3: “For there hath Jehovah commanded the blessing, life for evermore”. Eternal life is thus a blessing, indeed this Scripture describes it as the blessing. Now all men will live for ever in the sense of having an eternal conscious existence, but some will spend an eternity in the lake of fire, (see Matt 25: 41; Mark 9: 47, 48; Rev 20: 13–15), and an eternity in the lake of fire is hardly a blessing! Hence eternal life does not mean immortality or just living for ever. Those that are lost will spend an eternity in Hell, never dying. Is that eternal life? Of course not! So the answer to my question: Is eternal life the same as immortality? is No.

   Sadly, to many believers immortality is
all that eternal life does mean,—but as just shown this cannot be right because then all men would have eternal life, including those who will spend an eternity in Hell! While the word eternal, in the expression eternal life, does not exclude the idea that eternal life involves immortality, nonetheless the two are not the same.

   Now what terminates life? The only thing that terminates life is death. Hence for the words
eternal life to have any meaning they must be used in contrast to the present conditions of natural life that are terminated by death. Eternal life thus describes a condition of life that death can never interrupt.

   This brings me to my second question:

Do angels have eternal life?

   Certainly death never interrupts the life of angels—they live for ever—as Luke 20: 36 clearly shows: “for neither can they die any more, for they are equal to angels”. However, for the expression eternal life to have meaning, it must have as a background a life that can be subject to death. Yet as I have just pointed out angels do not die! Death is unique to man and the lower creation: “by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death” (Rom. 5: 12). The effect of Adam's sin was to bring in death upon the whole realm of which he was head. Of course sin itself was in the creation before man was created because there were angels who fell in sin before man introduced sin into the world; but death, following hard on its heels, was new, as far as the Bible reveals: “For since by man [came] death”, (1 Cor. 15: 21). Now the animal creation, when dead, is not raised again. It has no moral responsibility and never knows eternal life. Man alone, as a creature, lives, dies, and is raised again. Thus man alone can have eternal life, (though as already pointed out, it is a distinct blessing, and so not all men will have it). Angels, like men, are of course morally responsible, and will be judged (see 1 Cor. 6: 3). Some angels have sinned (see 2 Pet. 2: 4; Jude 6), and those that have will finally be the companions of men in the lake of fire, which, incidentally, God never prepared for man, but for the devil and his angels (see Matt. 25: 41). No angel ever dies, however, and so they are never said to have eternal life. Hence the answer to my second question: Do angels have eternal life? is No.

Is eternal life for heaven?

   I'm sure that many would answer yes to this question. Let’s look again at the first mention of eternal life in Ps 133: 3: “As the dew of Hermon that descendeth on the mountains of Zion; for there hath Jehovah commanded the blessing, life for evermore”. Just where did Jehovah command the blessing? “On the mountains of Zion”. Where is Zion? Not in heaven, but on earth.

   The term
eternal life can only have meaning by realising that it describes a condition of life for those who at present have a life that is temporal, terminated by death. If eternal life is contrasted to death, and it is (see Rom. 6: 23), then let me now ask Where does man die—on earth or in heaven? No one ever dies in heaven, men die on earth. Death belongs to earth and thus earth is the proper setting of eternal life. Eternal life describes conditions of life that man can enter into on earth. The teaching of the Lord Jesus in John 6 to any of those that saw Him and believed on Him was that such would have eternal life “and I will raise him up at the last day” (v40). Where does resurrection take place? Always on earth. Earth is where men die, where they will be raised and in that coming day enjoy eternal life. Hence the answer to the third question: Is eternal life for heaven? is again No.

   Now if eternal life is for earth, then I should find that the saints that have departed to be with Christ are never said to have eternal life
in their present condition. You will remember that my question was:

Does eternal life describe the condition of those who have departed to be with Christ?

   Where are those that have departed to be with Christ? “Oh”, you say, “Where the Lord is, in heaven”. If they are in heaven and if eternal life belongs to earth, then it is no surprise to find that such believers are never described as having eternal life as in heaven. It cannot apply to that condition because the saints who are present with the Lord are absent from the body, (or unclothed, as the apostle puts it in 2 Cor. 5: 1–8). You say “I don’t understand”. Well, death and resurrection really apply to the body, not to the soul or the spirit. Man properly constituted is “spirit, and soul, and body” (1 Thess. 5: 23). Man’s body is the vehicle by which he lives on earth. The saint who dies leaves that body behind in the grave until the Lord raises it. When that occurs death will be set aside for ever for such and they will be able to enter into the conditions that Scripture describes as eternal life. Unless death is set aside, (or held in abeyance, as it will be in the world to come), men cannot possess eternal life. To say that men who die possess eternal life is not just an enigma, it is nonsense. Hence my answer to the question Does eternal life describe the conditions of those who have departed to be with Christ? is No.
My fifth question asks:

Is eternity the setting of eternal life?

   Eternal life is not exactly for eternity as it will have no meaning then. It only has force and meaning in time. Take an analogy: People may speak of a man having a working life, and of having a home life. These are relative expressions. When that man retires, his working life is over. His home life, however, continues, but the term now loses its force, because the condition with which it had been contrasted, namely his working life, is ended. The same principle applies to eternal life. I have no doubt that all that is encompassed in the meaning of eternal life will continue after time but there is no point in describing something as eternal unless you are contrasting it with something that is temporal. Eternal life is thus a blessing for man, on earth, and in time. So when exactly in time?

   In Mark 10: 29, 30 the Lord Jesus declared that “There is no one who has left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, [or wife], or children, or lands, for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, that shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time: houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions, and in the coming age life eternal”. Was eternal life to be received then? No. When was it to be received? “In the coming age”. That is the world to come (see Heb. 2: 5), the 1000 year reign of Christ. It is
not eternity. The Lord makes a similar statement in Luke 18: 29, 30: “Verily I say to you, There is no one who has left home, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more at this time, and in the coming age life eternal”. What is received at “this time" is “manifold more”; what is received “in the coming age” is “life eternal”. Again, take John 6: 40: “For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son, and believes on him, should have life eternal; and I will raise him up at the last day”. Strictly speaking the prime application of this verse is to those who were there when the Lord spoke the words, such as Peter, for He says “who sees the Son” (my emphasis). You and I have not seen the Son. We are like those to whom Peter would later write and say “whom, having not seen” (1 Pet. 1: 8). Those who saw Him then and believed on Him were said to have eternal life. But what does that word have mean in this context? If it means present possession as many would argue, then why did the Lord add the words “and I will raise him up at the last day”? If such were to be raised, they must have first died, and if they had died, how could they have had eternal life? It is not just an enigma now but an impossibility! The true interpretation is that those who saw the Lord and believed on Him, had eternal life, but only in the sense of promise and entitlement, not possession or actuality. They needed to be raised out of death to be brought into the gain of the blessing.

   So
when is that “last day” when eternal life is going to be realised? It is the last day in God’s dispensational week, the 1000 years of Christ’s reign in the world to come. The millennium is the proper setting of eternal life. Another verse in John’s Gospel says: “He that loves his life shall lose it, and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal” (John 12: 25). To life eternal views it as future and contrasts it with life in this world which is subject to death. Yet what period of time in the future contrasts with this world? Why the “world which is to come” (Heb. 2: 5), of course. Incidentally there are many other Scriptures that view eternal life in the future without being so specific as to clearly indicate that it belongs to the world to come. (See for example Dan. 12: 2; Rom. 6: 22; Jude 21). The answer then, to my question Is eternity the setting of eternal life? is No.

   It is convenient to consider the next two questions together as they are related. The two questions were:

Did the OT saints have eternal life? and Is eternal life received on new birth?

   When the Lord was here, eternal life was a subject that came up on more than one occasion (see Luke 10: 25; 18: 18). In those instances, the questioner put eternal life on the ground of inheritance: “having done what, shall I inherit ...” The concept these questioners had of eternal life is confirmed by other Scriptures. In Matt. 19: 29 the Lord Jesus speaks of those that “shall inherit life eternal”, and Paul says in Tit. 3: 7 that “we should become heirs according to [the] hope of eternal life”. Eternal life thus comes on the line of inheritance, as does the kingdom and salvation (see Matt. 25: 34; Heb. 1:14). Now you normally only come into an inheritance after the death of the benefactor. You can have the promise of an inheritance while the benefactor is alive, but you cannot have the inheritance itself until he dies. Eternal life as an inheritance was not available until Christ died to secure that inheritance. Thus while the OT saints had the promise of eternal life and knew that God was going to bring it in, they did not and could not have it in actuality until Christ died. They had the promise and nothing more. Not until the world to come will the OT saints experience eternal life. This is confirmed by John 3: 14, 15: “thus must the Son of man be lifted up, that every one who believes on him may [not perish, but] have life eternal”. Christ must be lifted up, must die, so that the saints might gain the inheritance. Again, when the Lord was here, He told men not to work for the food which perishes, “but [for] the food which abides unto life eternal, which the Son of man shall give to you” (John 6: 27), showing that it was then future, and if then future, no OT saint could have had it. In the same chapter the Lord reveals that this food is eating His flesh and drinking His blood—the appropriation of His death. He says further that “He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal, and I will raise him up at the last day” (v54). Now as this food could not be available until the Lord Jesus died, no OT saint could possibly have had eternal life.

   Now if the OT saints did not have eternal life and yet were born again, then it follows that eternal life can not be consequential on new birth. That the OT saints had a work of God effected in them and were spiritually alive is unquestionable. Yet they did not have eternal life, for the Lord Jesus Himself said “I am come that they might have life, and might have [it] abundantly” (John 10: 10). It thus follows that eternal life cannot be consequential on new birth.

   Abraham was an OT saint. The Lord says of him that he “exulted in that he should see my day, and he saw and rejoiced”, (John 8: 56). Notice he
did see Christ’s day. What was Christ’s day? We read of that same day in, for example, Phil. 1: 10, 2: 16, and 1 Cor. 1: 8. Let me just quote the last of these Scriptures: “Who shall also confirm you to [the] end, unimpeachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ”. It is the day of His glory, when He shall reign in the kingdom for a 1000 years. Now in John 3: 3 I read that “Except any one be born anew he cannot see the kingdom of God”. Seeing the kingdom is a mark of one who is born again. Hence, because Abraham saw Christ’s day, the kingdom, he was born again. However, as an OT saint, he had never experienced eternal life and so it follows that eternal life cannot be directly linked to new birth. Incidentally to argue from nature, as some do, that when a baby is born it receives life is false, because a baby is just as much alive in its mother's womb before it is born as afterwards. The only difference is that the external conditions have changed. So that the answer to the questions Did the OT saints have eternal life? and Is eternal life received on new birth? is No in both cases.

   Up to now I have sought to show from Scripture that eternal life is a blessing for
man, in time, more particularly in the world to come and hence future. Its setting is on earth, not heaven, and could not be realised until after Christ died. But what exactly is eternal life? To quote 1 John 5: 20: “He is the true God and eternal life”, by way of reply and say that Christ is eternal life is not illuminating unless we see the force of the words. How is Christ eternal life? What do the words mean? We can arrive at the answer to this question by seeking to answer another:

Does eternal life describe the life of the Lord in the conditions of flesh and blood when here on earth?

   When the Lord Jesus came into manhood He came into those conditions which belong to manhood—sin apart. Heb. 2: 14, 15 says “Since therefore the children partake of blood and flesh, he also, in like manner, took part in the same, that through death he might annul him who has the might of death, that is, the devil; and might set free all those who through fear of death through the whole of their life were subject to bondage”. Those conditions that the Lord took part in were not intrinsic, but extrinsic to Him, as proved by the use of the Greek word metecho. (metecho means something I take part in external to myself). He took part in “blood and flesh” conditions which could be subject to death—so that “through death” he might liberate those who were subject to bondage.

   Now those conditions in themselves have nothing to do with eternal life. Conditions which can be subject to death are not the conditions of eternal life! Many blunder by interpreting 1 John 5: 20, “He is the true God and eternal life” to mean that all that was seen in Christ as man is covered by the expression
eternal life. Of course, the conditions of flesh and blood that Christ had were perfect, but in themselves they had nothing to do with eternal life. When John wrote that He is eternal life, he did so when Christ was no longer in those conditions, but the glorified Man beyond death forever. The Lord coming here entered into the responsible life of man: He wept, He was weary, He preached, He prayed, He ate, He drank, and He slept. Yet none of this was eternal life. It is most important to differentiate between what He brought, which was eternal life, and what He entered into as coming here––and the latter He left to enter into a new condition wholly suited to what He brought. As in that new condition of manhood in glory, it is then and then only, that He is said to be eternal life. When He was here, He is never described as eternal life. In death He left the condition into which He had entered, “the days of his flesh” (Heb. 5: 7), forever. Thus the answer to my question Does eternal life describe the life of the Lord in the conditions of flesh and blood when here on earth? is No.

   What did the Lord bring that could be described as eternal life? As God He is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. These are essential features of the Godhead. Eternal life cannot cover them for while we “may become partakers of [the] divine nature (2 Pet. 1: 4), we never partake of that which is unique to Deity. God has life in Himself: His life is independent of all external conditions. Such things eternal life cannot embrace. They belong to the Creator, not to creatures. I have no part in Christ as God, for I never cease to be a creature—it is only on the side of His manhood that I can have any part in Christ. Yet there was that “which was with the Father” (1 John 1: 2), which was manifested to the disciples when the Lord was here. He did not cease to be what He was by what He became, yet He brought into manhood that which man could enter into—holiness, love, and nearness to the Father—without the shadow of death being in the background. These features eternal life
does embrace and man can enter into. When here, although in the conditions of blood and flesh, there was that which He enjoyed as man with the Father which death could not touch and into which we can now enter. However, as it was hidden somewhat by what He took part in, (which could be subject to death), He is not said to be eternal life till clear of those conditions. When here, the disciples saw He had a heavenly relationship with the Father, that which did not inherently belong to this world, and that is eternal life, a life for man living in the love of God.

   Let's now consider question number eight:

Does a believer have eternal life in him?

   Eternal life is presented in Scripture objectively, because it is always presented to us in another Man, and that Man is the expression of it. Indeed every blessing available to believers now is connected with another Man. For example: redemption, salvation and eternal life are all said to be “in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3: 24, 2 Tim. 2: 10, Rom. 6: 23). Thus we read in 1 John 5: 11: “God has given to us eternal life; and this life is in his Son” (my emphasis). Again in 1 John 5: 20 we read “He is the true God and eternal life” (my emphasis). The fact is, eternal life is never said to be in us. It is always presented as something that man can enter into, not something that is in man. Thus in regard to the nations in Matt. 25: 46 the Lord speaks of some that shall go away into eternal punishment, and the righteous into life eternal. Again in John 4 :14 the Lord speaks of a fountain of water springing up into eternal life. Eternal life is always presented objectively, as something outside of myself that I can enter into––never subjectively, as something that is in me.

   Some argue differently. They reason that as 1 John 3: 15 says “no murderer has eternal life abiding in him”, then it is right to infer that believers do have eternal life dwelling in them. John 6: 53: “Unless ye shall have eaten the flesh of the Son of man, and drunk his blood, ye have no life in yourselves” is used in the same way, it being inferred that those who have eaten do have life in themselves. However, as we shall see, these Scriptures do not alter in any way the fact that eternal life is
always presented as outside of ourselves, never in us.

   All creature life, natural and spiritual, is dependent on external conditions. For example, consider a canary and a goldfish. Both depend on different external conditions which are life to them. Take the fish out of the water and it will die; put the bird into the water and it will die. The water is life to the fish; the air life to the bird. The expression
eternal life is used to describe those external conditions essential for the proper enjoyment, without the fear of death, of a spiritual life according to God. (The OT saints enjoyed life with God but death was ever there—see Ps. 89: 48, 116: 3 etc.). Now to maintain natural life I must eat and drink. These things are effectively life to me for without them I would die. In John 6: 55 I read of that which sustains eternal life: “for my flesh is truly food and my blood is truly drink”. Now note the following verse: “He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood dwells in me and I in him”. The order is “dwells in me” and then “I in him”. This is eternal life, abiding in the Son. That is where eternal life is. I read this in 1 John 2: 24, 25: “As for you let that which ye have heard from the beginning abide in you: if what ye have heard from the beginning abides in you, ye also shall abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise which he has promised us, life eternal”. Abiding in the Son and in the Father is eternal life. It is a sphere that death cannot encroach upon. However, as John 6: 56 showed there is a consequence: “I in him”.

   This principle is seen in John 15: 1–6. True, the subject there is fruit bearing, not eternal life, but the same principle applies. In this chapter the Lord is presented as the true vine with believers as the branches. The source of life is in the vine, not the branches. The branch only has life as long as it abides in the vine. Cut off a branch and the vine will not die, but the branch will. If the branch abides not in the vine it “is dried up” (v6).
It has no life in itself. Yet when the branch abides in the vine, evidence of life is seen in the branch in the green of the leaves and the clusters of grapes it bears. Exactly so with eternal life. Its presentation is always objective, as that which I enter into, but if I abide in that sphere, as keeping myself “in the love of God” (Jude 21), those features of eternal life such as divine love will be seen in me. Nevertheless, it is conditional on my abiding in Him. To argue that the absence of eternal life in a murderer infers that it dwells unconditionally in the believer is a false inference. If I abide in Him, He will abide in me, but the presentation of eternal life is always in Christ, never in me. Thus the answer to the question Does a believer have eternal life in him? is No.

   I must soon consider my final question. It may be as well however, firstly to revise and then prepare the ground a little before proceeding.

   I have tried to show that eternal life is a blessing peculiar to
man, which belongs to time rather than eternity, and which was purposed for earth in the world to come rather than heaven. It is an out–of–the–world condition of relationships established by God for man which could not be realised until Christ died. The expression eternal life is descriptive of conditions outside of man but which he can enter into. Its presentation is always in Christ.

   In the light of all this, what of the present time when the Church is being formed? Haven’t Christians got eternal life? Now we must realise that Christianity or the Church was never the subject of promise or prophecy in the OT. As a result it has no part in the dispensational ways of God. Eternal life does, however, and so it is not the peculiar property of Christians, although the depth to which they can enjoy it, (because of what is linked with it), is far greater for them than for any other saints.

   What is peculiar to Christianity is found in the Epistles, not in the Gospels. What is found in the Gospels may apply to Christians, but it is certainly not unique to them. Generally the prime application is to Israel. Thus when the Lord spoke in Luke 18: 30 of those who would receive manifold more “at this time, and in the coming age life eternal”, the words “
this time” (my emphasis) refer to the time then present, before the world to come, and before Christianity. To the Jew, (and it was to Jews that He was speaking), there were but two periods of time: the present one of law (Heb. 9: 9) and the world to come––“the coming age” (Heb. 2: 5; 6: 5).

   Now while Christianity in general is not found in the Gospels, one of the four is distinctive, indeed unique. The other three more or less trace the rejection of the Lord as Messiah by the Jews historically and thus pave the way for the introduction of the Church at Pentecost. John, however, begins with Christ’s rejection (John 1: 11). Indeed John 7: 39 would indicate that his Gospel is written from the standpoint of the Lord in glory. As a result eternal life is presented in a distinctive and fuller way in John. What is historically future is brought into the present. Let us see this in a single section in which eternal life features.

   John 5: 25 reads “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that an hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that have heard shall live”. What is properly future—“an hour is coming”—is given a present application—“and now is”. The resurrection of the dead awaits the advent of the world to come, but the present moral application is to those who, although morally dead, hear His voice and live now. In verse 28, when physical resurrection alone is spoken of, the language is different: “Wonder not at this, for an hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs shall hear his voice”. It is just “an hour is coming”, there is no present application.

   In many of its features, Christianity is the anticipation of the world to come. Let me give one example. The world to come is when Christ will establish His kingdom in power and reign for 1000 years (Rev. 20: 4). Yet in Col. 1: 13 I read, concerning
Christians, that the Father “has delivered us from the authority of darkness, and translated [us] into the kingdom of the Son of his love”. Thus although the proper setting of the kingdom is the world to come, Christians are in it now,—hence in that sense we anticipate the world to come. Yet notice the depth of its character “the kingdom of the Son of his love” (my emphasis). Similarly, the proper setting of eternal life is also the world to come but Christians can enjoy it now.

   It is now time for my final question:

Is eternal life a direct consequence of believing?

   Many would say that surely this is the whole tenor of John’s presentation, that eternal life is a present possession consequent on believing! Well is it? Let’s take a typical verse of John as an example: John 6: 47 “Verily, verily, I say to you, He that believes [on me] has life eternal”. People commonly read the words “has life eternal” to mean

(i) actual
possession of eternal life and

(ii) that life eternal is the
direct consequence of believing.

   Now “has” can
often mean actual possession, but certainly not always. Here it cannot have that meaning. The reason for this is seen in verses 50–56, namely that eternal life could not be available until Christ died. Yet when He was alive then, and speaking to people then, some believed on Him then (vs. 64, 69). If some believed, how could they have possession of that which was not as yet available? Hence “has” cannot mean possession. It simply means entitlement.

   Take an example. A man might say “When I form my choir whoever can sing well has a place in it”. It is simply an identification of the type of person that is entitled to such a place
when it is available; it is not possession. In the same way, though many have entitlement to eternal life, no one is in actual possession of it now (if they were, they would not die!). It is for the future, for the world to come.

   Why then is eternal life not the direct consequence of believing? Simply because the Bible does not say it is! Take for example John 5: 24: “he that hears my word, and believes him that has sent me, has life eternal, and does not come into judgment, but is passed out of death into life”. People read into this what is not there. They take the verse as meaning that eternal life is a direct consequence of believing on the Son. It is not, and this verse, nor any other for that matter, does not say so. They read it as “and believes him that has sent me,
shall have life eternal”. However, the future tense of consequence is never used once by John in regard to eternal life––he always, without exception, uses the present tense of identification. The point of the verse is identification not consequence. The Lord is identifying the kind of persons that have it. If I say to a group of runners “whoever wins the race shall have the prize”, then that is an example of consequence. If they win they get the prize; if not, then they don’t. However, should you ask me who won the prize and I reply “the one with the blue vest has the prize”, then it is simply a matter of identifying the right person. Thus the words “believes him that has sent me, has life eternal” is identification of the type of person who has it. This is all entirely in keeping with John’s ministry, which is the closing ministry of the NT (New Testament). He writes when all kinds of people were claiming to be Christians and saying they had eternal life. So John records those words of the Lord which identify the kind of persons who have it, namely believing persons.

   What then
is eternal life the direct consequence of at the present time? The difference between Christians and those of Israel who believed when the Lord was here is two–fold:

(i) The Lord Jesus has now died and so eternal life is now available for believers.

(ii) Christians have the means of entering into eternal life now, without waiting for the world to come, as they have the Holy Spirit permanently indwelling them.

   While no one can have eternal life apart from believing, it is not the direct consequence of believing, but of having the Holy Spirit. He is the “fountain of water, springing up into eternal life” (John 4: 14). I do not possess eternal life like a hand–kerchief in the pocket, but it is available for me to enter into now as I sow to the Spirit. For “he that sows to the Spirit, from the Spirit shall reap eternal life” (Gal. 6: 8). It is the direct consequence of having and sowing to the Holy Spirit.

   An illustration may help. I have already shown that eternal life is viewed in Scripture as an inheritance. Suppose a man gains an inheritance of property in a foreign country on the death of a relative. He can establish his entitlement to that inheritance by showing the title deeds. In the same way faith secures the title deeds of eternal life. Yet that man may live all his life without ever visiting his inheritance. When asked to describe it he may just resort to the title deeds. Sadly this is like many believers with regard to eternal life. They can quote the Bible to show that they have it, but that is all, they have no experience of it. They mistake the faith of the thing for the thing itself. If you are not in the enjoyment of eternal life, then you are like the man who has title to his inheritance, but has never been there. The living reality of eternal life is the harvest of sowing to the Holy Spirit. If I sow to the flesh and live in the world, while my title is secure, I know nothing practically of eternal life. Oh what you are missing! Living in the Spirit as the Son lived, in the blessed consciousness of the Father's love, in a heavenly atmosphere where death has no place, even while here in this present evil world. May it be your portion to be in the enjoyment of eternal life
now !

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